The rollercoaster ride that has been the New York Yankees’ 2021 season is on an upswing, as New York has won five games in a row and is coming off what could possibly be a season-defining win over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday night at Fenway Park.
Down 2-1 in the top of the eighth inning, Giancarlo Stanton launched a grand slam well over the Green Monster to give the Yankees a lead they would hold en route to a 6-3 victory. The win tied them with Boston at 88-67 on the season, and both teams are currently holding the American League Wild-Card spots.
New York can sweep the Red Sox Sunday and move a game ahead of Boston with six to play. The Toronto Blue Jays are two games behind both New York and Boston while the Seattle Mariners (three games behind) and Oakland Athletics (four games behind) are further back but still in contention.
Jordan Montgomery gets the start for the Yankees while Eduardo Rodríguez goes for the Red Sox in a battle of lefties. First pitch from Boston is at 7:08 p.m. ET. The BetUS Sportsbook has this game as a toss-up with the Red Sox and Yankees both -105 on the moneyline. The Red Sox are +160 favorites on the runline and the Yankees are -190 underdogs on the runline. MLB odds have the over/under at 9½ runs.
Montgomery Has Held Rotation Together
If you told a Yankees fan before the season that Montgomery would be second on the team in innings pitched (behind Gerrit Cole), they would assume that New York was far out of playoff contention. Of course, they would be wrong but it would be a fair assumption to make. Montgomery has been one of the pillars holding the rotation together even as injuries, COVID, and suspensions have hit it hard.
Montgomery is having his best season in the majors with a 3.55 ERA in 149.2 innings. He is striking out over a better per inning and has done a great job at limiting home runs, which has been a problem for him in the past and is always tough to do at Yankee Stadium. While he doesn’t pitch very deep into games, he has made basically every start (28 so far) and has stepped up with guys like Corey Kluber, Domingo Germán, and Luis Severino not available for large chunks of the season.
If you’re betting online, you should back Montgomery and the Yankees. He has given up one earned run or fewer in eight of his last 10 starts and is coming off two of his better outings this season. With the Yankees’ big bats getting hot, Montgomery will at least keep New York in the game and likely will hold down the Red Sox for five innings or more.
Rodríguez Still Shaky
After suffering through one of the more public athlete COVID cases in 2020, Rodríguez’ return to the mound in 2021 has — understandably — been an up-and-down one. With an ERA just under 5 but with career-best strikeout numbers, he has been serviceable overall yet far from his 2018 and 2019 peak form. Boston desperately needs a big start from him on Sunday night.
In September, Rodríguez has actually done a good job of preventing runs. He had impressive starts against the Tampa Bay Rays (six innings and no runs) and Seattle Mariners (six innings and one earned runs), but was also hit hard by the Rays and gave up a ton of baserunners to the New York, yet was fortunate to hold them to two runs. So, it’s been kind of a mixed bag.
The problem is that the Yankees’ offense, at its best, can punish pitchers who aren’t sharp very quickly, as it has done to Boston all weekend. Stanton is red hot right now and guys like Aaron Judge, Anthony Rizzo, Luke Voit, and Gary Sánchez are always home run threats. While New York’s lineup has underperformed all season, it’s still incredibly dangerous and might be finding its groove at the end of the regular season.
You should take advantage of the MLB lines giving the Red Sox too much credit in this matchup. Boston is on its heels and all the pressure is on the Red Sox to avoid the unthinkable: A home sweep by the Yankees. Rodríguez just can’t be trusted to keep New York off the board.
New York Has Bullpen Edge
Boston’s bullpen has been such an unexpected strength this season. However, things might be falling apart there for Alex Cora. Key piece Garrett Whitlock is out until next weekend with a strained pectoral while former closer Matt Barnes and swingman Adam Ottavino are working through slumps.
There just aren’t many reliable guys for Cora to turn to as evidenced by Saturday’s loss, in which rookie Tanner Houck and inconsistent lefty Darwinzon Hernández tried (and failed) to get through the heart of the Yankees’ order. New York is dealing with its own injury issues in the ‘pen but the Yankees have more trusted arms with experience in big games. Also, Severino’s introduction to the bullpen as he works himself back from Tommy John surgery has been a resounding success so far, which adds another electric option to the late-game mix.
If you’re making MLB picks, you should take the Yankees straight up. They have the better starter, more reliable bullpen, and hotter lineup at the moment. With all those indicators, they probably should be favored in this game and, because they aren’t, New York’s moneyline is the way to go.